Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay


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Sexual Harassment in the Work Place of Healthcare Professionals
Sexual harassment is unwanted, unwelcome or unsolicited sexual behavior, sexual advances or sexual favors (Gold, 2008). It includes things like whistling at someone, asking them questions about their sex life, inappropriate touching, sexual comments, referring to a woman as babe, rape(attempted or actual), unwanted cornering or sexual looks, just to name a few.
There is widespread sexual harassment in various work places, but even more so and in the healthcare profession. Quality healthcare is the backbone of a people. The country and the world at large are in a better position of achieving its vision and goals if its citizens are in good health. The rising cases of sexual harassment in healthcare facilities threaten the realization of quality healthcare for all. This creates a tense working atmosphere for everyone involved right from the janitor to the say, Chief Orthopedic surgeon.
Sexual harassment in a healthcare facility occurs in a variety of ways. First, it exists between nurses and patients. Nursing is not only associated with women as it was before. Today, we also have a number of male nurses. Both women and men are victims of unwanted sexual advances; however, women are the most likely targets of such behavior. A patient may harass a nurse by pulling her hair as she adjusts his IV bottle, they may also sexually harass a nurse by threatening them with rape when they refuse to turn up the volume of the television set. When a patient harasses a nurse, they withdraw from them completely, only giving medical essentials but totally withholding emotional and supportive care.Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay
Reports of sexual harassment on female nurses have been on the rise globally. In Turkey, sixty-three percent of nurses have filed sexual harassment reports while seventy percent of nurses in The UK have done the same. The number goes even higher in Israel with ninety one percent of nurses filing sexual harassment reports while in Canada, fifty three percent of nurses have followed suit. In America, between sixteen and seventy-six percent of nurses have reported cases of sexual harassment (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 2013). With the important role nurses play in healthcare, thesis statistics are disturbing, to say the least. Nurses support both doctors and patients. They provide doctors with everything they need to treat patients; seldom can a doctor survive without a nurse. Nurses also attend to patients, by giving them medicine and being there for them emotionally. Therefore, the sexual harassment of a nurse leads to disruption of the deliverance of safe and quality healthcare. When they are sexually harassed, nurses get frustrated, anxious, depressed, and they may even experience posttraumatic stress. These negative effects lead to loss of concentration at work. They spend less time responding to the patients’ needs, and it negatively affects the relationship between patients and the staff.Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay
Another form of sexual harassment in the workplace exists between medical trainees and their supervisors. Many students have reported different forms of sexual harassment by their supervisors. A study conducted to prove that showed that based on s survey, five hundred and eighty-fourth year medical students reported incidences of sexual harassment. Another study, based on a survey of seventy-five third year students, revealed more cases of sexual harassment (Marshall, 2001). Some forms of sexual harassment that the student experience is sexual discrimination, sexist comments, unwanted sexual gestures, denied opportunities, sexual advances, scathing rumors and the exchange of rewards for sexual favors. Sexual harassment by a supervisor is harmful to the medical trainee and to a medical profession itself. It greatly interferes with a student’s academic work; they become depressed, stressed, angry, frustrated, and, therefore, not able to give their academics the attention it deserves. Students who decline sexual advances from their educators are also negatively affect their academics because the educator may look for ways to frustrate them as some pay back. The hostile environment created by the sexual harassment of students by their educators also jeopardizes patient care.
Sexual harassment in healthcare facilities also exists between patients and the staff. A study on the sexual abuse on patients showed that eighty percent of them were adult women, while children below the age of fourteen accounted for nine percent (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011). This is unacceptable. People go to a healthcare facility to receive treatments for their ailments, to leave feeling better than when they went in, not feeling worse. Unfortunately, this is sometimes the case.Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay
Healthcare professionals sometimes take advantage of the vulnerability of patients. They abuse the trust patients have bestowed on them. Some of these professionals sexually harass their patients by touching them inappropriately, winking at them, and asking questions about their private life and patients have reported cases of attempted rape. It is the responsibility of a doctor or a professional in charge to treat a patient with respect and utmost care. No form of sexual relationship should exist between a healthcare practitioner and his patient because it could easily lead to abuse. Sexual harassment of children is disturbing, and it is a huge betrayal to the parents. Sexual harassment on patients has adverse effects on healthcare because people may eventually lose faith in the system. They may prefer to self-medicate, which is usually not the safest option (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011).
Unwanted sexual advances may exist among the healthcare professionals themselves. A doctor may be sexually harassing his nurses; a nurse may be sexually abusing another, or a physician may be overly friendly to his colleagues in a way that makes them uncomfortable. As earlier mentioned, these experiences negatively affect the workplace environment. The healthcare provided will be of low quality and the patient who suffers. It also leads to strained relationships between the staff. This injures moral and the individual wellbeing of the staff.Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay
In conclusion, all healthcare professionals should act responsibly towards each other and their patients to reduce and eventually, put an end to sexual harassment. They should also educate their patients on the boundaries they should observe when dealing with nurses and other staff. These greatly contribute to the reduction of sexual harassment cases.

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While I was doing my research for this paper I wanted to keep a few things in mind such as what exactly is sexual harassment, what are the two types of sexual harassment, how does the law handle sexual harassment, and a few more questions that will be answered in this paper. One thing I believe we can all agree with is that harassing someone because of their gender is wrong and there is no place for it in any environment especially in a workplace.
I believe we all know it is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s gender. Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. That being said harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s gender. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision. The harasser can be the victim ‘s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity…Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay

In 2009, a jury awarded nurse Janet Bianco a record-breaking payout of $15 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit, although a judge later reduced the amount to $750,000. Bianco alleged that a physician, Matthew Miller, repeatedly groped and propositioned her over an eight-year period at Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Queens, New York-and that the hospital hadn’t done enough to protect her and other nurses from his harassment. Despite multiple complaints to supervisors about Miller’s behavior, no action had been taken, even though Miller had previously been sanctioned by the state for engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient under his care. After a particularly aggressive assault in 2001, Bianco filed a formal complaint with the hospital. Miller finally faced consequences: a two-month license suspension, three years’ probation, and loss of his admitting privileges.

Figure. Trauma clini… – Click to enlarge in new window Trauma clinical nurse specialist Teresa Goodell has experienced many incidents of sexual harassment during her 35 years as a nurse in the Portland, Oregon, area. She blames the hierarchical culture of hospitals and of health care in general. “Once while practicing in intensive care, I questioned a physician about the plan of care,” she tells Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay
More recently, Paula Rickey, RN, filed a lawsuit against Kerry Assil, an ophthalmologist and the medical director of 90210 Surgery Medical Center in Los Angeles where they both worked, and Cedars-Sinai Health System, the center’s parent company, for battery, sexual harassment, and discrimination. Rickey claimed that instead of disciplining Assil after she reported an instance of assault, Cedars-Sinai reduced her work hours and altered her schedule to accommodate his. Cedars-Sinai has not commented on the case, as it is ongoing.

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have put a national spotlight on workplace sexual harassment. As members of a female-dominated profession, nurses have long dealt with on-the-job sexual harassment, and the problem persists in today’s workplace.

Box. U.S. Equal Empl… – Click to enlarge in new window U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Guidelines
Sexual harassment is part of a larger picture of overall abuse-both verbal and physical, such as assault, stalking, and bullying-in health care settings. A 2014 literature review in the International Journal of Nursing Studies found that about one-third of nurses worldwide have been physically assaulted (36%), bullied (37%), or injured (33%) in the workplace, while approximately two-thirds have experienced nonphysical violence (67%), such as incivility and verbal abuse. In addition, roughly one-quarter (28%) of nurses reported having been sexually harassed on the job. The types of violence varied by world region, with the highest rates of both physical violence and sexual harassment occurring in “Anglo regions” (defined as English-speaking countries that are culturally and linguistically similar, such as the United States, Canada, England, and Australia).Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay

As to why the rate of sexual harassment of nurses was so high in Anglo regions (39%), the study’s lead author Paul Spector, PhD, distinguished professor of psychology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, says that such behavior may be more acceptable in places like the United States than in regions such as Asia or the Middle East.

“One factor that affects some countries, particularly Muslim countries, is that there can be strong inhibitions against men making physical contact with women who are not in their immediate family,” he explains. “Thus, men would be highly unlikely to touch a nurse. Such inhibitions are far less in the United States, where sexual behavior is more acceptable outside of marital relationships.” Another possible reason, says Spector, is that in some countries, such as those in Asia and the Middle East, “there is considerable shame associated with being targeted, and women are reluctant to report it, even in an anonymous survey.”

It is difficult to ascertain the actual rate of sexual harassment among nurses in the United States, since no definitive studies have been conducted, and scant data are available. Bonnie Castillo, RN, director of health and safety at National Nurses United, thinks that sexual harassment in the United States is most likely underreported. “There is an element of shame,” she says. “And it is a difficult subject to discuss or report.”Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay

In the hospital setting, there is a traditional hierarchy of administrators, managers, and physicians who give orders to the health care team, including nurses. “Within this structure is the inherent assumption of domination or power over another person,” Castillo says. “When [harassment] happens, it often gets ignored because of that shame and the assumption that reporting it won’t make a difference.” She emphasizes that this is particularly true if the perpetrator is a physician or an administrator. “They are revenue generators for the hospital, and they hold power.”

In some cases, nurses may fear retaliation or job loss for reporting harassment, even though in theory federal law is supposed to protect workers from this. In Castillo’s view, having a union contract may empower nurses who experience harassment. “Being in a union gives nurses a collective protected voice and legal representation in the hospital, so they don’t have to rely on the internal reporting mechanisms.”Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay


Seun Ross, DNP, MSN, CRNP-F, NP-C, NEA-BC, director of nursing practice and work environment at the American Nurses Association (ANA), says that nurses need to learn how to recognize harassment and how to report it. “Many hospitals and organizations say they have zero tolerance policies, but we don’t know how well those are enforced,” she says. “What we see is that nurses are not reporting sexual harassment for any number of reasons.”

The ANA has a new initiative under way to promote zero tolerance policies for workplace abuse of nurses-#EndNurseAbuse. Eliminating sexual harassment is part of the initiative, which encourages nurses to report abuse rather than view it as part of the job. “Nurses should not be dismissing inappropriate behavior from patients, from coworkers, from doctors-it should be identified, not dismissed. The more we bring it to light, the more it will be addressed, just like in the #MeToo movement,” Ross says.Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay

With all the means of technology people use recently, they are informed of most of the accidents and incidents, which occur in this world if not all of all of them. It is noticeable that the number of sexual harassment cases taking place is increasing rapidly, which gives a clear idea of the existence of many reasons, one of which is how people in authority are not taking this huge problem into account and are not trying to prevent it. Such actions have serious consequences and, which results in that the world should make fast moves towards preventing these actions from happening and saving many young teens in the best years of their lives from being mentally or even literally destructed.

It is most likely for people, who hear the term “sexual harassment” to think that the victim is from the opposite sex, and is mostly a woman. In this matter it was cleared out that the harasser and the victim can be from the same sex no matter who harasses whom.

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome or unwanted attention either by touching or talking to a reasonable person in a way he/ she does not like. This term sometimes extends to include gender harassment, harassment based on sexual orientation, and Sexual abuse. It also in result it is a very important step that the victim tells the harasser that what he is doing is not welcome nor is it wanted. In other words it is legally not considered harassment if the victim does not express his/ her rejection to the action the harasser is forcing on him.Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay

The action of assault or harassment is usually carried out by person, who is in a position of power. Harassers know they are doing something against the law or at least wrong and that’s why they work hard to keep it hidden. In order to do that they either have to hide their identity or show it but in the same time have the ability to keep the victims mouth shut under every condition. Being someone’s boss or higher-level co-worker gives the harasser the power to do what they desire and keep it in the dark. Judith Brandenburg wrote in her book Confronting Sexual Harassment: “Sexual harassment is not an exclusively sexual issue but may be an exploitation of a power relationship. Like any other power struggle, many instances of sexual harassment are initiated and negotiated by a person in a position of authority and are sustained at the expense of another who cannot counter demands without risk of reprisal (student teacher vs. student, principal vs. teacher)” (Brandenburg,).

As a human nature people don’t do anything unless they want to, in other words the motivation should exist for any action to be done. Although sexual harassment is not an accepted deed within any society, it still does have motivations. Harassers are people and they make mistakes, but there is something that pushes them towards such a behavior. One of the reasons is the way women dress that some times gets beyond attractive to be sexy, which is irresistible for some people.Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay

Another motivation, the place of work some women choose to work within. Some women’s profession or study field obligates them to be surrounded with a masculine environment. This will make it more possible for them to hear dirty jokes and manly comments and some how harassed if they don’t like to face such situations, when they still do go through them.

Furthermore, the society, culture, environment, morals and people form a person’s personality and way of thinking. For instance, living in a society like the United States or European countries would create people who would commit an action like the harassment. Because analyzing the way the people in these countries live, a person would come out with an assumption that their life is almost all about having fun and drinking and even doing drugs, which all are means that make the person lose his mind in a way or another, and then do things that wouldn’t remember next morning, or he would but with a killing regret. As mentioned above the way people dress is also a huge factor in this problem. Thinking of the way the young interact with each other also gives an impact about what’s going on, for a kiss is no longer valuable as it was. Everybody kisses everybody at all times; happiness and sorrow, which is what makes these teenagers always ask for more.Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay

Meanwhile living the opposite side of the world such as the Arabic/ Islamic counties presents a whole different viewpoint. Islamic “Shari’a” forms the way Moslems deal with everything in their lives. This Shari’a bands any interaction between female and male unless for education, business, work, and all essential elements of living. In addition to that limitation women should be dressed a certain way so that they would not cause the attraction, which then results in problems and crisis that are unsolvable and harmful. Women should cover every part of their bodies excluding the face and hands, and the dresses should never be tight, short, or too long to walk with. It should be a decent color and decent jewelry that does not bring noise. Same for shoes heals, for they cannot cause noise while walking. Cosmetiques are not allowed for two reasons; one is that they change the way God created the person. Secondly, they attract the other sex and cause what is not supposed to exist. Shari’a also banned looking at peoples’ bodies no matter if they were covered or not. Drinking, doing drugs, and kissing, and any further action in this matter is completely forbidden. This environment absolutely safe, and does not allow any type of harassment to take place. The previous was a small set of the differences between the two societies if a person can limit them in tow.Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay

Many consequences rise based on sexual harassment; beginning with the victim on personal bases this person’s life changes ‘180 degrees’. He may develop psychological and somatic symptoms that mirror those of victims of other crimes, particularly sexual assault. He reports anxiety, depression, irritability, anger, weight-loss, uncontrolled crying, fatigue and dental problems. On professional bases they perform decreased job satisfaction, performance and a disruption in his career and relationships with his co-workers. It affects the harasser a little differently, for the harasser does not face any outcomes unless allegations against them were investigated. The harasser will also face both personal and professional reprisals for their behaviors. He will face career related outcomes and strained relationships with coworkers. This person will not be trusted anymore, and his friends and everybody he knows will be shocked and not able to interact with this person any longer. He as well may lose his career and family. Sexual Harassment in Healthcare Essay

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